“a coincidence”

“Guyana Pastoral” kept calling me
from a place i dare not describe
i had no knowledge of the language
it was dubbed as Guyanese Creole
i still have no knowledge of the language
but assume to understand some words in it
it was the composer i just had to “get” anyway
and i believe i now have
Guyana’s Ambassador-at-Large
David Dabydeen
an explorer of the history of Guyana,
UNESCO’s Executive Board member
presenter of “The Forgotten Colony”

a mere sand particle at the sea colonies . . .

the owner of the incredible response
to J.M.W. Turner’s “Slave Ship”-painting
Turner’s depiction of African slaves in chains
being thrown overboard . . .
Dabydeen’s contemplation
on the ‘submerged body of a drowned slave
in the foreground’ of the piece,
his fantasy- and history-melding
upon the slave’s portrayal
his compelling act of reclaiming
and redeeming of the past
amid the shadows of his insights into
and studies of “the horrors of slavery and
colonization”, under the ever-so-thickening
clouds that carry on the darkest fame of
European barbarians, among which he ‘stages’
the migrant predicament
stating it as it is in an interview:

I’m inclined to think that Britain has
heavily depended on us for its material
and cultural development. The tribe had
an important say and influence in the
[British]development. You can’t be
a Guyanese without being a Brit and
you can’t be a Brit without being a
Guyanese, or a Caribbean.

recognition came along, it indeed came along
for Dabydeen would not leave any of it alone
along his steadfast extraordinary way
he helped the British develop some more
for he wanted the cast over the bloodied pools
under the blood-soaked beds no more
he helped the world develop some more
so, he co-edited a monumental how-to-book
for the walking dead of colonialist barbarisms-at-large
the Oxford Companion to
Black British History
which went down to history
as “a magisterial excavation of Black Britain”

one award after another accompanied Dabydeen
not merely for his editing work but rather as
a poet –the winner of the Commonwealth Poetry Prize
a masterful novelist
a model scholar
a literary-icon-educator
the Director of the Centre for Caribbean Studies
and Professor at the Centre
for British Comparative Cultural Studies
at the University of Warwick
and much more . . .

a coincidence?

I think not!

my discovery
of the Highly Esteemed David Dabydeen
was meant to be

for it has materialized
at a time of an utterly-trying
professional hardship of mine
not to exclude all those contemplations
on the value of poetry to me
a life-ring in a turbulent sea
with a nearby-view of the long-lost years
to no longer be
David rescued me
a professor passionate in teaching
a heavily-faded scholar of some merit
however depressed or self-oppressed
a struggling writer of fiction
a poet starving for self-attention
with much to tell and speak of yet
including the ‘migrant condition’
though not of Black History alone
nor purely of David’s “Slave Song”

i wouldn’t know where to begin
and doing disservice to any gems
is not cannot will not be mine to claim

it is my own path that i will follow
believe me there is significant sorrow
in that which i am able to pierce
through at least one lightless shadow

i shall proceed
whenever wherever the ground is opportune
of course, always all ways
with fiery thanks from the soul
to that magical tongue
called the Guyanese Creole

© hülya n. yılmaz, February 18, 2018

[Published by Inner Child Press International in the March issue of the fifth volume of The Year of the Poet]



Filed under Poetry

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